NBA News and Notes Tuesday 5/12

NBA News and Notes Tuesday 5/12

Tuesday's NBA Tips
By Brian Edwards

Gamblers can’t ask for much more from the NBA Playoffs on Tuesday night. There’s a pair of Game 5’s on the agenda in series’ that are both knotted at 2-2.

Both matchups have great storylines, bad blood and the potential for plenty of drama. The defending champs went from the brink of elimination to taking back the momentum in their showdown with Orlando thanks to a buzzer beater from Big Baby Davis in Sunday’s Game 4. Now Boston returns home to face the Magic in Game 5.

Houston appeared to be finished when Yao Ming went down with a season-ending foot injury in the final minute of its Game 3 series against the top-seeded Lakers. Without Ming and Tracy McGrady, most felt like the Rockets would fold. However, big games from Aaron Brooks and Shane Battier sparked Houston to a 99-87 Game 4 victory to even the series.

Let’s take a closer look at both games.
   
**Magic at Celtics**

--Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Boston (68-25 straight up, 48-44-1 against the spread) as a 3 ½-point favorite with a total of 193. As of early Monday night, most books had the Celtics as two-point ‘chalk’ with the total adjusted to 192. Bettors can get a small return (plus-115) by backing the Magic to win outright.

--Boston won a 95-94 decision in Sunday’s Game 4 as a five-point underdog, hooking up money-line backers with a generous payout in the plus-170 range. Paul Pierce paced the winners with a game-high 27 points, but it was his fourth assist of the night that was the most important play of the game. Pierce found Davis for his game-winning 20-footer that was an easier look for the tightly-guarded Kansas alum. Davis finished with 21 points and six rebounds on 9-of-14 shooting from the field. Rajon Rondo tallied 21 points and 14 boards, while Ray Allen was also in double figures with 12 points.

--Orlando (65-27 SU, 53-38-1 ATS) has to be kicking itself after allowing a golden opportunity to take a 3-1 lead slip away. In the losing effort, Dwight Howard had 23 points and 17 rebounds. Rashard Lewis finished with 22 points.

--The ‘under’ is 5-2 in the last seven head-to-head meetings between these squads.

--The ‘under’ is 52-40 overall for the Magic but just 23-23 in their road assignments.

--The ‘over’ is 49-43-1 overall for the Celtics, 31-15-1 in their home games.

--Tip-off for Tuesday’s Game 5 is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. Eastern on TNT.

**Rockets at Lakers**

--LVSC opened Los Angeles (71-20 SU, 47-44 ATS) as a 12 ½-point favorite with a total of 196 ½. As of Monday night, most spots still had the Lakers at 12 ½ with the total moved to 198. Gamblers can back the Rockets on the money line for an enormous plus-800 payout (risk $100 to win $800).

--Houston (59-33 SU, 45-46-1 ATS) won Game 4 thanks to Aaron Brooks’ 34-point effort. The explosive second-year guard from out of Oregon has made his team look brilliant for trading Rafer Alston to Orlando at the trade deadline. Brooks has abused Derek Fisher and absolutely went off in Sunday’s 99-87 win for the Rockets, who closed as 7 ½-point underdogs at most books. Shane Battier was also instrumental, draining five 3-pointers on his way to 23 points. He also played outstanding defense on Kobe Bryant.

--Pau Gasol led the Lakers with a team-high 30 points in Sunday’s defeat. Bryant was held to a playoff-low 15 points.

--We know about the season-ending injuries to Ming and McGrady for the Rockets, but the Lakers are also dealing with an extremely important injury. Lamar Odom is “questionable” after with a back injury after a hard fall in Game 4. Odom is averaging 13.7 points and 10.0 rebounds per game in these playoffs.

--The Lakers have seen the ‘over’ go 46-44-1 overall, 25-21 in their home games.

--The ‘under’ is 48-44 overall for the Rockets, but they have watched the ‘over’ hit at a 25-21 clip in their road games.

--TNT will have the telecast at 10:35 p.m. Eastern.

VegasInsider.com

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Re: NBA News and Notes Tuesday 5/12

Odom questionable with bruised lower back

LOS ANGELES (AP) -Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom is listed as questionable for Tuesday night's Western Conference semifinals Game 5 against the Houston Rockets after an MRI and CT scan showed he has a bruised lower back.

Odom left Sunday's 99-87 loss with back spasms in the third quarter. He was hurt when he drove into the lane and collided with Shane Battier, landing hard on the court.

He remained face down, writhing in pain, for about a minute before slowly rising to his knees, then got up and made his way down the court. He was called for a charging foul and then was given a technical after jawing with an official over the call.

He had two points and six rebounds in about 25 minutes.

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NBA PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(3) Orlando (5-3 SU, 3-5 ATS) at (2) Boston (6-4, 5-4-1 ATS)


With a buzzer-beating victory in Orlando in Game 4, the Celtics return to TD Banknorth Garden with the home-court advantage back in their favor as they try to go up 3-2 on the Magic in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Glen Davis, in the lineup only because injured Kevin Garnett is out for the season, finished his 21-point performance with a game-winning 19-footer as time expired Sunday to give the Celtics a 95-94 victory as a five-point road pup and even this series at 2-2. Paul Pierce had a game-high 27 points and point guard Rajon Rondo finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds for Boston, which won despite scoring just 16 fourth-quarter points.

Just 48 hours after shooting almost 60 percent from the floor in a Game 3 blowout win at home, the Magic were held to 40 percent shooting Sunday and just 18.5 percent from beyond the three-point line. Dwight Howard had a monster game with 23 points and 17 rebounds, while Rashard Lewis chipped in 22 points for the Magic, who got outrebounded 44-38.

Orlando has won five of its last seven overall (4-3 ATS) and seven of its last 11 (5-6 ATS), and the Magic are 3-2 (2-3 ATS) on the road in the playoffs, including a Game 1 victory in this series. The Celtics have alternated wins and losses in their last nine outings (5-3-1 ATS) and they are 4-2 (2-4 ATS) inside the Garden in the postseason.

Orlando has won four of the last six head-to-head contests against the Celtics (3-3 ATS), including taking two of the last three in Boston. However, they’re still just 4-13 ATS in their last 17 trips to Beantown and the host in this rivalry is on streaks of 10-4 SU and 23-11 ATS.

The Magic are just 5-11 ATS in their last 16 overall, 2-6 ATS in their last eight road games and 4-12 ATS in their last 16 against Atlantic Division teams, but they’re on positive ATS runs of 36-16-3 as an underdog, 14-5 as a road ‘dog, 16-7-1 on Tuesdays and 49-20-1 after a straight-up loss.

The Celtics are just 3-11 ATS in their last 14 conference semifinal games, 7-15 ATS in their last 22 at home and 2-6-1 ATS in their last nine following a spread-cover, but they are 6-2 ATS in their last eight as a home chalk of less than five points.

The under is 5-2 in the last seven Magic-Celtics meetings (2-2 in this series). Meanwhile, Orlando is on a plethora of “under” runs that include 12-5 overall, 6-1 after a non-cover, 15-6 after one day off, 5-2 as an underdog, 12-5 against the Atlantic Division and 4-0 on Tuesdays. On the flip side, Boston carries “over” streaks of 14-4 overall, 35-16-1 at home, 18-5 as a favorite, 21-7 against Eastern Conference teams 6-1 as a playoff favorite and 5-0 on Tuesdays.

ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE


WESTERN CONFERENCE

(5) Houston (6-3 SU, 5-4 ATS) at (1) L.A. Lakers (6-3, 4-5 ATS)


The Rockets dominated the Lakers in Game 4 on Sunday to even this best-of-7 Western Conference semifinal, and now it’s a best-of-3 series as the action shifts back to Staples Center in Los Angeles for Game 5.

Playing without center Yao Ming, who is out for the season with a broken foot, the Rockets shocked Los Angeles 99-87 as a 7½-point home underdog Sunday, leading by as many as 29 in the third quarter before cruising in the fourth quarter. Houston point guard Aaron Brooks finished with 34 points and Luis Scola had 11 points and 14 rebounds to lead the way. Shane Battier added 23 points and hit his first four three-point shots to help the Rockets build a sizable early lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

The Lakers got 30 points and nine boards from Pau Gasol but just two other teammates hit double-digits in scoring, including a lowly 15 from Kobe Bryant, who played nearly 35 minutes. Also, despite the fact Houston didn’t have the 7-foot-6 Yao manning the post, the Rockets still had a 43-37 rebounding edge.

Houston has won 11 of its last 16 (9-7 ATS) while the Lakers are 13-4 in their last 17 (9-8 ATS). The Rockets are 2-3 (3-2 ATS) on the highway this postseason, including a 100-92 upset victory as an 8½-point underdog in Game 1 in Los Angeles last week. The Lakers are 4-1 (2-3 ATS) inside the Staples Center in the playoffs.

Including this playoff series, the Lakers are 6-2 SU and ATS against the Rockets this season and 9-5 ATS in the last 14 meetings overall. Furthermore, Los Angeles has cashed in four of the last five clashes in Hollywood.

Rick Adelman’s Rockets are on ATS slides of 5-11 against Pacific Division teams, 11-25-1 after a spread-cover, 2-5 after getting one day off and 3-7 on the road against teams with winning home records. Meanwhile, Phil Jackson’s squad is 5-2 ATS in its last seven after a non-cover, but just 4-9 in its last 13 as a playoff favorite.

After going over the posted number in Games 2 and 3, Sunday’s contest stayed well below the total making the under 4-2 in the last six series clashes.

The Rockets have soared over the total in nine of its last 12 Tuesday contests, but otherwise they are on “under” streaks of 6-2 overall, 5-2 after getting one day off and 5-2 after a straight-up win. Los Angeles has topped the total in five of its last seven conference semifinal games, but it also is on a host of “under” runs that include 5-2 overall, 7-3 on Tuesdays, 15-3-1 after a non-cover, 13-3 after a straight-up loss, 5-2 as a playoff favorite and 15-7 after getting one day off.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER

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NBA Today

SCOREBOARD


Tuesday, May 12

Orlando at Boston (8 p.m. EDT). The defending champion Celtics tied the Eastern Conference semifinal series 2-2 on Glen Davis’(notes) jumper as time expired Sunday. The Magic haven’t made it to the conference finals since Shaquille O’Neal(notes) and Penny Hardaway led them there in 1996.

STARS

Monday

— Dirk Nowitzki(notes), Mavericks, scored 19 of his 44 points in the fourth quarter, including a high-arching shot with 1:05 left that put Dallas ahead for good in its 119-117 victory over Denver.

— Josh Howard(notes), Mavericks, had 21 points and 11 rebounds to help prevent Dallas from being swept.

— LeBron James(notes), Cavaliers, had 27 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in a series-clinching 84-84 victory over Atlanta.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Carmelo Anthony(notes) scored a career playoff-best 41 points in Denver’s 119-117 loss to Dallas.

UNBEATEN AND UNCHALLENGED

Cleveland made it an NBA-record eight straight wins by double digits with an 84-74 victory over Atlanta to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. The Cavaliers became the second team to sweep the first two rounds of the playoffs since the NBA expanded the first round to best-of-seven in 2003. The Miami Heat started with sweeps of New Jersey and Washington in the 2005 playoffs before losing to Detroit in the East finals.

SWEEPS STOPPED

Dallas avoided a pair of sweeps with its 119-117 victory over Denver in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. Besides being swept in the series, the Mavericks avoided dropping every game this season against the Nuggets. Denver won all four meetings in the regular season.

COACHING CAROUSEL

Jay Triano is keeping his job and Tony DiLeo is returning to his old one. Triano signed a three-year contract Monday to coach the Toronto Raptors, dropping the interim tag after taking over the team during the season. DiLeo withdrew his name from consideration for the 76ers’ permanent coaching job and will go back to his old job in the front office, citing family reasons. General manager Ed Stefanski said the search for a replacement will begin immediately.

SPEAKING

“Why should we celebrate? We’re playing for a championship. An advance is an advance. It doesn’t matter if you win in four games or you win Game 7. We’re happy that we’re playing great basketball … but we’re not taking for granted what we’re doing right now.”—LeBron James after Cleveland completed a sweep of Atlanta and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals with an 84-74 victory in Game 4.

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